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The Stylistic Construction of a Novena Reader in Nineteenth-Century Iloilo

Cyril Belvis

Date of publication:

December 31, 2019

Filipino scholars have explored strategies of containment and modes of resistance in colonial devotional literature (Ileto, 1979; Mojares, 1983; Rafael, 1988). As a contribution, this paper examines Flores ni Maria Santisima, a popular 19th-century novena written in Hiligaynon. Unlike previous studies, the paper uses concepts from linguistics to describe the stylistic construction of the novena’s implied reader. The following steps have been followed: (1) a word-for-word translation of an excerpt; (2) enumeration of the words’ marked features; (3) free translation of the excerpt; and (4) analysis of the data. The study concludes that (a) the pananglit (hagiography) simulates natural narrative; (b) transitivity encodes a mental picture of reality for the reader; (c) face-threatening acts are prevalent through direct address; and (d) novena reading is a gendered practice. The stylistic profile of Flores may serve as prototype for further studies on devotional literature.

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